Safety at risk in new cost-cutting motorway scheme
25 July 2012
The Government's desire to extract the maximum capacity from the motorway network at the lowest possible cost could jeopardise road safety, believes the ABD.
Until now, 'managed motorway' schemes have only allowed the hard shoulder to be used as a running lane at times of peak traffic flow, when variable speed limits apply and there are frequent refuge areas available for emergency use. From now on, however, starting with a managed motorway scheme on part of the M1 in South Yorkshire, the hard shoulder will be in use at all times, often with the speed limit at 70mph, and the distance between refuge areas will be four times greater (2,000 metres instead of 500 metres). The outside (fourth) lane will also be reduced in width to 3.2 metres (10 feet 6 inches) from the normal 3.65 metres (12 feet).
The ABD was concerned about the safety aspects of managed motorways when they were first proposed in 2004, and also that they would be used as a cheap alternative to widening or new-build schemes. The ABD responded to the consultation carried out at that time and we were invited to discuss our concerns with the consultants working on the pilot M42 scheme.
Malcolm Heymer, the ABD's traffic management adviser and one of those who met the Highways Agency's consultants, comments, "The consultants explained at length how the safety issues were going to be addressed. I was impressed with the sincerity of their determination to produce a safe and effective scheme. Subsequent experience shows that, whilst there are other issues with the usefulness and application of variable limits, the current schemes work reasonably well with regard to safety. These new proposals, however, show that we were right to be concerned that managed motorways were the thin end of a make-do-and-mend wedge, and now it seems even safety is to be compromised to reduce costs further."
The ABD is not alone in its fears about the safety of future managed motorway schemes. Local authorities and emergency services in South Yorkshire have voiced their concerns about the M1 scheme, with the emergency services commissioning an independent review of the plans. ABD chairman Brian Gregory concludes, "These cost-cutting proposals are a step too far and we call on the House of Commons Transport Committee to hold an inquiry into their safety as a matter of urgency. With drivers paying five times as much in taxes as is spent on the road network, we deserve better."
Price and specification revealed for new Transit
25 July 2012
Ford's new Transit Custom van will be priced from £17,495 (excluding VAT), while the company promises class leading carrying ability.
Customers choosing the short-wheelbase version get a cargo volume of 6 cu m, while the long-wheelbase van offers 6.8 cu m. Ford says maximum priority was given to combining the largest possible load box within the Transit Custom’snew shape, and particular attention was given to the detailed design of the bulkhead and bodysides to optimise the size and practicality of the load space.
New features in the Transit Custome include a load-through hatch in bulkhead enables loads up to three metres in length, such as pipes or ladders, to be safely carried inside a SWB vehicle. A hinged opening (596mm x 205mm) at the foot of the bulkhead allows long items to be laid along the floor of the van, and extend into a secure loadspace underneath the dual passenger seat in the front cabin. LWB models can accommodate loads up to 3.4m long There is also a deployable integrated roof rack system seamlessly integrated into the roof. The system features three transverse roof bars which are located in recesses in the roof panel, and which can be deployed when required.
When not in use, such as when the owner is using vehicle at the weekend, the cross bars can be quickly folded down, reducing drag and fuel consumption, creating a smarter appearance, as well as keeping the vehicle height under two metres for access through car park height restrictions (with the exception of the 330 series). The roof rack is capable of carrying loads up to 130kg There are also locking check arms that allow the rear cargo doors to be easily locked in place at 90 degrees open, to ensure that the doors cannot be blown around by gusts of wind or passing vehicles while the driver is loading or unloading items
Repositioned tie-down hooks and fixing points located on the body sides. By moving the multiple DIN and ISO compliant tie-downs onto the side wall, the floor is left clear of intrusions or recesses that can reduce usable load area or make complete cleaning of the floor nearly impossible An easy-clean load floor liner offers enhanced durability and simple cleaning. Similar to the load-bed liner in a pickup truck, the sealed load liner is constructed of strong material, and is tailored to the shape of the load floor, extending up to a height of 80mm around the sides of the load area. The liner is easy to mop or sponge clean, it also protects the steel floor from the possibility of damage during loading and unloading, enhancing residual value
LED loadspace lights provide customers requiring brighter lighting within the load box, such as when using the cargo area as a working space, with significantly higher light output from four high-performance LED units
"This may be a more stylish Transit, but it’s a more functional Transit, too," said Barry Gale, commercial vehicles chief engineer, Ford of Europe. "The additional features we have built into the load space make everyday functions more convenient – so it’s easier for customers to do their job."
Committee calls for Government U-turn on .....
19 July 2012
.... electric vehicle tax
New incentives needed for EV and hybrid
19 July 2012
Despite several financial incentives designed to encourage the uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles, there has been little take up so far, reports the Campaign for Better Transport.
With the Government committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% on 1990 levels by 2050, the Campaign for Better Transport says electric and hybrid vehicles are one of the main planks of the Government’s carbon reduction strategy. But a range of measures, including graduated Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), Plug-in Car Grants and graduated company car taxation rules have failed to have the desired effect.
Stephen Joseph, chief executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said: “Our report suggests that now is the perfect time to consider a more radical approach and a ‘feebate’ system could work.
EC proposes further CO2 reduction targets for cars
16 July 2012
The European Commission has put forward proposals to implement targets that will further reduce CO2 emissions from new cars and vans by 2020.
The proposals will cut average emissions from new cars to 95g/km in 2020 from 135.7g/km in 2011 and a mandatory target of 130g/km in 2015. Emissions from vans will be reduced to 147g/km in 2020 from 181.4g/km in 2010 (the latest year for which figures are available) and a mandatory target of 175g/km in 2017. The mandatory targets for 2020 are already envisaged in existing legislation but require implementation. Following thorough technical and economic analysis by the Commission, the Regulations proposed establish the modalities by which the targets would be achieved.
Connie Hedegaard, EU Commissioner for Climate Action, said: ''With our proposals we are not only protecting the climate and saving consumers money. We are also boosting innovation and competitiveness in the European automotive industry. And we will create substantial numbers of jobs as a result. This is a clear win-win situation for everyone. This is one more important step towards a competitive, low-carbon economy. More CO2 reductions beyond 2020 need to be prepared and these will be considered in consultation with stakeholders."
These measures will lead to net savings for consumers, each new car will on average save its owner around €340 (£268) in fuel costs in the first year, and an estimated total of €2,904-€3,836 (£2,293-£3,029) over the car's lifetime (13 years), as compared with the 2015 target. For vans the average fuel cost saving is estimated at around €400 (£315) in the first year and €3363-€4564 (£2,655-£3,604) over their 13-year lifetime.
Overall, consumers will save around €30bn per year in fuel costs and it is estimated that the targets could increase EU GDP by €12bn annually and spending on employment by some €9bn a year. The proposals would in total save 160 million tonnes of oil – worth around €70bn at today's prices - and around 420 million tonnes of CO2 in the period to 2030.
The proposals will be submitted to the European Parliament and the Council for discussion and adoption under the normal legislative procedure. They would amend two existing Regulations establishing binding requirements for manufacturers to meet the 2015 mandatory target for cars and the 2017 target for vans. Implementing measures for the Regulations are already in place and CO2 emissions from new vehicles are monitored annually.